Bengaluru: Till last Thursday, 28-year-old Kambala jockey Srinivasa Gowda was unknown, even in Mangaluru. However, a tweet and an article on his unbelievable feat of covering a distance of 100m in just 9.55 seconds — three seconds faster than world record holder Usain Bolt’s 9.58 seconds — made him a national and international sensation overnight.
Gowda created the record on February 1. But the news did not reach the media in Bengaluru for almost two weeks. A few local Kannada newspapers had carried a small report on his Kambala run, comparing Gowda to Bolt. But it was buried on the inside pages, attracting less attention.
This reporter stumbled upon one such report in a newspaper and had it verified from his sources in Mangaluru. A senior IPS officer also shared a picture of Gowda’s run and other details with him.
Later, a tweet and an article in News18.com about Gowda and Kambala went viral in just 12 hours, making him an instant celebrity. The tweet was retweeted over 9,000 times and the article was shared several times across the country as well as the world.
He is Srinivasa Gowda (28) from Moodabidri in Dakshina Kannada district. Ran 142.5 meters in just 13.62 seconds at a "Kambala" or Buffalo race in a slushy paddy field. 100 meters in JUST 9.55 seconds! @usainbolt took 9.58 seconds to cover 100 meters. #Karnataka pic.twitter.com/DQqzDsnwIP— DP SATISH (@dp_satish) February 13, 2020
Congress leader and MP Shashi Tharoor, industrialist Anand Mahindra, BJP national general secretary Muralidhara Rao and many others tweeted the story, tagging Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju and asking him to train Gowda for the Olympics. The sheer number of the tweets stunned Rijiju and he immediately responded, alerting the Sports Authority of India (SAI)’s southern centre in Bengaluru about the record-making run. He even instructed them to test out Gowda’s physique and talents.
In the meantime, the Karnataka government also took note of his achievements, inviting him to Bengaluru for a meeting with Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa at his office. An elated Gowda reached the state capital on Monday and was felicitated by the chief minister. He was also given a cash reward of Rs 3 lakh.
Gowda then met SAI officials later in the evening, accepted their felicitation and had dinner with them. But he declined their offer of taking up training immediately, citing prior Kambala commitments till mid–March. He also maintained that any comparison with Bolt is not fair and his discipline is entirely different. Many Kambala experts and athletes also share the opinion, advising the government not to force him to run regular sprints.
Speaking to News18.com, Gowda said he never thought a tweet and an article would make him so famous in just a day.